Saponification ExplainedIn simple terms, saponification is the name for a chemical reaction between an acid and a base to form a salt. When you make soap using the cold process soap making method, you mix an oil or fat (which is your acid) with Lye (which is your base) to form soap (which is a salt).
How exactly does this happen? In order to understand it, you must consider the chemical makeup of the acid and base being used in the reaction.
The base must always be composed of one hydroxide ion. For the most part, people use lye (one sodium ion and one hydroxide ion) as their base. You will notice that the sodium ion does not take part in the reaction at all. For this reason, other bases like potassium hydroxide can be used as well because it too is made up of one hydroxide ion. Potassium hydroxide is more prominently used for liquid soap making.
There are many different types of acids that will react with your base and saponify. Your acid could be olive oil, coconut oil or tallow among others. Each acid has a unique combination of triglycerides (compounds made of three fatty acids, attached to a single molecule of glycerol) which combines with the base (lye) differently. The amount of base needed to react with the acid will vary depending on the chemical makeup of the acid. See the saponification table help page for guidelines.
As you combine, and stir the carefully measured acid and base together, they start to react. The triglycerides within the acid release the single glycerol molecule (which turns into skin nourishing glycerin) allowing the fatty acids to combine with the hydroxide ions within the base, forming soap.
So folks what we have here is the big l-i-e about lye in your soap. When saponification takes place it renders the lye inert. Per the dictionary chemically inactive. synonyms : unmoving, motionless, immobile, inanimate,still, stationary,static. Or simply two reactions occur. The first reaction is glycerol turning into beneficial glycerin and the second is the acid and the base combining to form a salt which is the soap.
There is soap produced without the benefit of lye. They are lovely in their own right but their producers claims of sodium hydroxide soaps being hazardous are erroneous. And while we are talking soap the large percentage of commercial soaps you will find at the market or shop of your choice do have lye in them. But wait you say "not mine not on the label". Look again but look at a different wording such as sodium cocoate, sodium palmate,sodium palm kernalate,sodium talowate, sodium olivate or lastly saponified oils. Once again read your labels you are worth the trouble so are any members of your family.
I make every effort to buy local for my ingredients. I like to have a face and a voice to go with the product I buy and keep it close. To me local is no more than 50 miles from my farm. But when I have to purchase from further away I try to be sure it is from someone like minded and a small family owned farm or business. So far my soap is made from with ingredients produced or businesses in the Northern California area into the Pacific Northwest.
Hope you have enjoyed your visit today and maybe learned a few things. The reason for the ramble? I did a soap order today and will be making soap ready to go to homes in about 6 weeks. And yes Walnetto Farm will add a soap page to the blog when the time comes. Have a peaceful evening !